The dirt road is a bit rough -- not recommended for low-slung sports cars or vehicles longer than 24 feet, although it is passable for smaller motor homes. Probably the most easily recognizable of all the Monument Valley formations, you’ve seen East Mitten, West Mitten and Merrick Butte in countless photographs. Monument Valley is probably the most iconic destination in the American Southwest, after the Grand Canyon. The road veers to the right here and climbs slightly. Please visit the park website for up-to-date information - https://navajonationparks.org/tribal-parks/monument-valley/ Users have reported that this trail passes through private property. It’s tempting to venture off to explore them but don’t as your entry only allows access to Valley Drive. The trail is primarily used for nature trips and ohv/off road driving. The next time Alan and I visit the area, we’ll book a Navajo guide for a trip on the Mystery Valley Tour.Private tours offer access to petroglyphs, Anasazi dwellings, a couple of sandstone arches and more rock formations. The Bluff City Historical Preservation Association publishes an excellent tour brochure describing historical houses and other sites in Bluff with a guide to nearby rock art sites. Monument Valley, UT/AZ – The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park spans the Utah/Arizona Border near Four Corners and is located off of Utah Highway 163. Numbers indicate the main stops along the Valley Drive - the scenic road through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park: The Mittens and Merrick Butte. You will descend into theValley and walk entirelyaround the […] Its mesas and spires are formed of the same Cedar Mesa sandstone as the somewhat larger formations at Monument Valley. From Mexican Hat, cross the San Juan River and, as the sign says, you are entering Navajo land. Bring your zoom lens and stay awhile. The orange-red dunes of Sand Spring are the reason for pulling into the parking area at the edge of Spearhead Mesa. Trailers and large RVs will find the long climb to Muley Point nerve-racking, but the steep switchbacks and unbeatable scenery make this one of the most thrilling drives in the state. Here’s what to see and do: Planning a trip to Utah? Once you’ve parked the car, taking a photo of East Mitten—you can’t see the thumb from this perspective—through the branches of an old tree stump is a must. Because of photos and movies, it’s a familiar scene to most of us, especially baby boomers. As you can see from this photo Three Sisters makes a great photo stop. 11:51. A spur road brings you to John Ford’s Point where a rocky promontory juts out over the desert offering a commanding view of where you’ve just driven. The Hub. At nearby Sand Island Recreation Area, 2 miles past Bluff, an excellent Anasazi petroglyph panel features five representations of Kokopelli, the humpbacked flute-player. Here are the viewpoints: 1. Lodging tips and other travel suggestions are included at the end so keep reading. The Totem Pole spire sits beside the Yei be Chei formations with Hunts Mesa hulking in the background. ... Valley of the Gods 17 Mile Loop Road - Duration: 11:51. The park visitor center is open from 6am to 8pm April 1 through September 30 and 8am to 5pm October 1 through March 30. When done with these side trips, return south to U.S. 163. Go slow, the road is bumpy! While the Navajo have long been considered one of the most peaceful of the Native American nations, during the middle part of the 19th century they were a fierce and powerful people who caused more trouble for the invading white Anglo-Americans than almost any other indigenous group. Or continue even a few miles farther north to Desert Rose Inn in Bluff, Utah (a step above the rest quality wise, in my opinion). Spend a short time browsing in the Navajo jewelry store. Or perhaps it’s time for the picnic lunch that you packed. In 1864, after a long period of hostility between the Navajo and white settlers, the Navajo were forcibly evicted from their home in the Four Corners region and made to march east across New Mexico. Goulding's will continue to offer tours in the surrounding areas such as Tear Drop Arch, lodging, restaurant, grocery store, convenience store, museum and theater. However, you do not want to be in a low riding vehicle as you could experience a few clearance issues. I like Coppertone Sport (click here for current price on Amazon) because it’s water resistant so it doesn’t sweat off. Bluff is a peaceful place whose biggest attraction is San Juan River excursions. But did you know that Clint Eastwood was filmed atop one of the spires for The Eiger Sanction? THE TRIBAL PARK IS CLOSED FOR OCTOBER, 2020. And don’t rush—this journey is about taking it slow to appreciate (and photograph) the view. From here it is 4 miles to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. There is a 17-mile loop road that takes tourists around the park. Plan on spending at least two to four hours to get the most out of the experience. And if you enjoy roadtripping as much as I do, subscribe to our Road Trip newsletter. Today the Navajo are a friendly, hospitable people, proud of their desert home, rich culture, and beautiful crafts. You can also pay $2 to photograph a Navajo rider posed at the end of the promontory. 2 h 9 m. Note: As of December 2020 the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is closed due to COVID-19. Monument Valley, a red-sand desert region on the Arizona-Utah border, is known for the towering sandstone buttes of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Note especially the Bluff library, a fine old stone building. For the best experience, check park hours and arrive early before the 15 mph traffic begins to stack up. It is known to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Monument Valley has been the location for many movies and television shows. Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal park (not a USA National Park) - National Park passes will not be accepted. Besides writing and publishing, Luxury Cruise Reviews for Small Ship Cruisers, The Ultimate Guide to a Monument Valley Scenic Drive, Arrive early in the morning for a sunrise photo shoot, The 11 Stops on the Monument Valley Loop Drive, Frequently asked questions about Monument Valley, How to Visit Valley of the Gods in Southeastern Utah. Walk the 1/3 mile dirt path to see exactly why North Window is the most popular, and potentially crowded, stop on the drive. © 2020 MY ITCHY TRAVEL FEET | DESIGN BY KALEIDOSCOPE DESIGN STUDIO | DEVELOPMENT BY RTW LABS, A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. As mentioned, the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is the land of the local Navajo. Although Gouldings doesn’t have the same killer view, you’ll be surrounded by legends of the historic trading post turned lodge. The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size. The 11 Stops on the Monument Valley Loop Drive The scenic drive in Monument Valley includes 11 numbered stops, which are notated on the free map provided by the Visitors Center. Admittance hours change according to the season, so check here when planing your trip. Monument Valley from the valley floor Monument Valley is officially a large area that includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park. Before leaving Monument Valley, get out of the car for the 3.2-mile Wildcat Nature Walk around West Mitten Butte. AVAILABLE TOURS. Subscribe by clicking here. This sandy preserve bathes the region between Arizona and Utah in rich red hues, adding to its reputation of having some of the most dramatic and mesmerizing light. That’s how Alan and I began our boomer travel adventure. It's free! Monument Valley & Four Corners are currently closed until further notice. Located in the Navajo Nation within the Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley is a spiritual place held sacred by the Navajo people. If you agree with me, then plan to stay at The View (the Navajo hotel at Monument Valley) or Gouldings Lodge. You are experiencing one of the most majestic – and most photographed – points on earth. From this point on, the road becomes one-way. Do you still have enough energy for a hike? The park, frequently a filming location for Western movies, is accessed by the looping, 17-mile Valley Drive. Kayenta is the closest town (23 miles to the south) with lodging; but I’d rather wake up with a Monument Valley view outside my window. Arriving early also gives you a chance to try Navajo fry-bread for breakfast at the View Restaurant in the Visitors Center before the 17-mile road through Monument Valley, opens for traffic. The sheer sandstone Elephant Butte sits atop a red ridge. As I mentioned earlier, those choosing the Monument Valley self-guided tour must stay on the main road. You’ve arrived at a 150-foot high solitary spire that sits in the middle of a valley. After driving through the gap in this striking formation, it is definitely worth stopping to look back and study the impressive natural barrier more carefully. About 3 miles west of Bluff, U.S. 191 makes a sharp left turn and heads south to Mexican Water, Arizona. Plan on spending at least two to four hours to get the most out of the experience. Boomer travelers rely on our weekly email newsletter for fresh travel inspiration, tips, and advice. Monument Valley Road leads to the Monument Valley Tribal Park itself and the Monument Valley visitor center. The loop finishes on Highway 261 (paved) just south of the descent from the Moki Dugway and north of the turnoff for Goosenecks State Park. One excellent example of this is embodied in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. The Monument Valley Scenic drive is a 17-mile scenic loop on a dirt road and takes you to the majority of the monuments such as The Mittens, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point, Totem Pole, Yei Bi Chai, Ear of the Wind. According to Tripadvisor travelers, these are the best ways to experience Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park: Monument Valley Tour (From $90.00) 2.5 Hour Guided Tour of Monument Valley (From $75.00) Sunset Tour of Monument Valley (From $85.00) Monument Valley Extended Backcountry Tour … It’s about 16 miles from Bluff to the eastern entrance, on the right, of Valley of the Gods, a highly recommended side trip. The visitor center parking lot teems with local jeep tour companies, eager to whisk you off on guided tours of varying duration and difficulty. Its mesas and spires are formed of the same Cedar Mesa sandstone as the somewhat larger formations at Monument Valley. Additionally, the park has two trails for hiking and 11 lookout points. According to Tripadvisor travellers, these are the best ways to experience Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park: Monument Valley Tour (From US$90.00) 2.5 Hour Guided Tour of Monument Valley (From US$75.00) Sunset Tour of Monument Valley (From US$85.00) Monument Valley Extended Backcountry Tour (From US$90.00) Monument Valley is known for its stunning sandstone mesas, spires, and buttes, isolated stacks with inclined sides and a flat top. Scenic driving information adapted from Scenic Driving Utah (Globe Pequot Press). It’s considered the heart of the earth to the Navajo; a land with arguably the most breathtaking view in … Four Corners Monument - CLOSED until further notice. Totem Pole and Sand Springs. Avoid the summer months, if you can, as it is hot in the desert. The small, basic (no drinking water) campground here fills up quickly. Easy Rider and Forrest Gump are two familiar movies with scenes that were shot in the valley. WE WILL STILL BE OPERATING SCENIC TOURS IN OTHER AREAS IN MONUMENT VALLEY. As your vehicle climbs up the rocky road onto Mitchell mesa, look back in awe at at the natural wonder that you’ve just witnessed. The next 25 miles are among the most attractive highway stretches in the entire country, memorialized in many films over the years. Please adhere to local guidelines for safe and responsible travel, including following the statewide mask mandate. The highway crosses Comb Wash, revealing the dramatic cliffs of Comb Ridge, a huge redrock escarpment running north–south. The red rock formations range from 100 to 1,000 feet tall. If the rock doesn’t seem to look much like a sombrero to you, it might help the illusion to consider it to be upside down, suggesting the medicine man first turned his rival on his head. General admission to drive the 17-mile scenic loop road is $20 per car for up to 4 people, ages 9 or younger are free (make sure to confirm information before you go!) Are you planning a road trip in the American Southwest? The Navajo (Diné) name for Monument Valley is Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning Valley of the Rocks. If you’re looking for a photogenic spot in Monument Valley, this is one of my favorites. Read our DISCLOSURE. Valley Drive, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. The scenic drive in Monument Valley includes 11 numbered stops, which are notated on the free map provided by the Visitors Center. Usually accessible to regular vehicles, including small RVs, though various types of guided tour are available. It’s one of our all-time favorite adventures in the American Southwest. Driving the 17-mile self-guided loop lets you see most of the major scenic attractions of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park at your own pace, and at the lowest cost. Not as picturesque as some of the other stops but it’s worth noting that you are at the highest point of the drive. We report on active travel adventures so that you know what to expect. The Navajo Nation depends greatly on tourism, and they are happy to share their land and demonstrate their culture. The Utah section of the 25,000-acre Navajo Nation is home to a small portion of the Navajo’s nearly 300,000 members. The large parking lot makes for a popular tour bus stop so arrive early to avoid the crowd. Don’t forget to bring water! Good literature on the park and the drive is available at the visitor center. Valley of the Gods is like a miniature version of Monument Valley without people. Perhaps more than any other Native American group, the Navajo have adapted to modern American society while retaining much of their traditional way of life. Copyright © 2021 Utah Office of Tourism. You can drive the loop and wander around within reason, but do not go off the tracks. To make the most of a Monument Vally drive, arrive before the sun rises. Although Gouldings doesn’t have the same killer view, you’ll be surrounded by legends of the historic trading post turned lodge.To escape the tourist crowd, drive 33 miles north on Highway 163 to Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast. Please note with these closures Goulding's will remain open and fully operational. The valley’s more out-of-the-way spots can only be reached with a guide, but you can hike the Wildcat Trail to get an up-close view of some monuments. Length: 5.4 mi • Est. But the best part, driving in Monument Valley is easy to do on your own. The sun in this part of Arizona and Utah is strong, so wear a hat (click here for my favorite travel hat) and apply sunscreen! Highway 261 will take you south back to U.S. 163, but there are some things to see along Highway 261 so consider taking more side trips. This is home base for several land and river tour companies and makes a good base for exploring the surrounding wilderness areas, though lodging is scarce. The Monument Valley visitor center and scenic drive are actually on the Arizona side of a dividing line that is only nominal on the reservation. Monument Valley Tribal Park Welcome to the Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Park. Inspiring boomers one adventure at a time. The 17-mile loop drive on (mostly good) dirt road is suitable for all but the most low-slung passenger vehicles in good weather. A: Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal park and charges a fee for access to the loop road through the valley. National Park passes will not be accepted. On the unpaved roads of the scenic drive, high-clearance vehicles are recommended: Those who travel by tour bus, motorcycle, low rider and most regular passenger vehicles, however, will find this scenic drive inaccessible. Monument Valley is located about 50 miles south of Bluff, UT on US highway 163. Camel Butte. Definitely consider driving this beautiful, lonely loop—though not in a large RV and not dragging a trailer. Don’t forget to sign up for our Road Trip Newsletter for the best road trip itineraries, interesting destinations, valuable tips and road trip gear. Now you know why I suggested unpacking your lunch at Artist’s Point. Watch carefully for the Sand Island Road, on the left, just before the major turnoff for Mexican Water. Continue straight on U.S. 163. The turnoff for Goosenecks State Park is on Highway 261 about 8 miles south of the Moki Dugway on the right (on your left if coming up from U.S. 163). Fall and spring provide the most comfortable temperatures, especially September/October and April/May. Even if you aren’t into tourist spots, it’s still worth spending a short amount of time here. (If you haven’t taken the Valley of the Gods option, turn right off U.S. 163 and head north on Highway 261 for about 9 miles to get here.). This intersection is like an open-air shopping mall for souvenirs — most, except for the glorious handmade rugs, made in China or Mexico — and Native American art and food. Although you’ll read advice that a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary, that’s not the case. While the landscapes to the north and east are characterized by dramatic ancient bucklings of the earth and by intricate, mazelike canyons carved by the persistent action of rushing waters, the country encountered on the drive between the town of Bluff and Monument Valley drive is more spacious and more serene in its magnificence. The overlook at the park will reward you with one of the most impressive views of entrenched river meanders in all of North America. Yá'át'ééh ... Monument Valley is located on the boarder of Arizona and Utah. The Navajo comprise the largest Native American tribe, and the Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the country. Or continue even a few miles farther north to Desert Rose Inn in Bluff, Utah (a step above the rest quality wise, in my opinion).Both accommodations make a great headquarters for visiting other sites in the area such as Valley of the Gods, Goosenecks State Park, Cedar Mesa, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Canyon de Chelly among many others. You’ll notice dirt tracks leading off in several directions. The little town of Mexican Hat has depended largely on several minor oil and mining booms; today it benefits from the fair stream of tourists to this remote corner of Utah. There is little question you'll love Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park's world-renowned scenic drives, whether you explore the self-guided part or book a deeper exploration with a Navajo guide. After admiring the dunes turn 360 degrees for more views of Totem Pole and Yei be Chei. Many travelers approach the park via historic Bluff, Utah: This stretch of road on U.S. 163 is beauty on a grand scale. There is a nice picnic area with a few primitive campsites (free) here but no water. Further determination will be made on January 1, 2021. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, USA in 4K Ultra HD - Duration: 10:43. Monument Valley is a special place for other reasons, too. It’s worth spending a few minutes here wondering just how nature accomplished such a sculpture. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.You can find my Amazon influencer store here. Admission costs $10 per person or $20 per vehicle with up to four people. Although the scenery is stunning in its own right, the real meaning of a trip to Monument Valley comes when one learns about the culture and history from the Navajo point of view. Valley of the Gods is like a miniature version of Monument Valley without people. Hiking in Monument Valley The Wildcat Trail is the only hiking trail inside the Tribal Park that visitors can hike unescorted by authorized Navajo guides – it departs from The View Hotel. Grab your camera (I use a Panasonic Lumix) and let’s get started! There were areas that were a … As soon as you climb out of the San Juan gorge, the views of Monument Valley spread out before you, turning your front window into an oversize, moving postcard. For access to the loop road through the valley a fee of $20 per car has to be paid. Behind the sombrero is an interesting geologic formation called the Navajo Rug, a wavy pattern in the cliff strata. The ground becomes increasingly sandy in this part of Monument Valley. You’ll learn about Navajo history and culture, plus have access to off-limit areas. Monument Valley tours from Native American guides take you deeper into Monument Valley, with areas only accessible by guides. Another well-known—and slightly touristy—stop in Monument Valley, this spot is named for John Ford, director of the movie, Stagecoach, starring John Wayne. This article may contain referral links. Stay away after heavy rains. Wildcat Trail Walking Tour: Greet Father Sun by taking the Wildcat Trail Walking Tour. and includes a free Monument Valley drive map. The park features an unpaved 17 mile loop drive which travels through scenic Monument Valley. Just past Comb Ridge, you climb out of the ravine and begin to see the outline of the Monument Valley’s dramatic formations way off in the distance. Additionally individuals wishing to hike in the valley or to visit sites not on the loop road must hire a Navajo guide for an additional fee. All Navajo Nation parks, including Monument Valley, are currently closed until further notice. After negotiating the steep (and sometimes rough) first 1/2 mile down Mitchell Mesa into the valley, the Monument Valley road levels out. This 17-mile long road passes through the best natural sights that the valley has to offer, including the iconic rock formations and rock pillars, and past excellent viewpoints. When these attempts at forced relocation ultimately failed, the Navajo were allowed to return to their traditional home. The namesake formation for the town of Mexican Hat is actually about 1.5 miles north of town on the left, well marked and with good dirt roads leading right to it. To escape the tourist crowd, drive 33 miles north on Highway 163 to Valley of the Gods Bed and Breakfast. The paved road to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park crosses the Utah-Arizona stateline, passes the entrance booth … 17 mile dirt road past the best formations of Monument Valley, within the Navajo Tribal Park, passing 11 major overlooks. It is incredibly quiet, and watching the moon rise here is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is a 17 mile/25 km guided tour of the Valley Loop Drive taking 1.5 hours to complete. The tour brochure is usually available there. Totem Pole and Yei Bi Chei. 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